Big changes for women’s volleyball

Waking on the heels of a 10-20 season, with a record of 0-8 in conference, the Oswego State women’s volleyball team knew it would be in for a change in the 2011 season. However, it was the severity of the change that had been underestimated.

Old coaches leaving and new coaches surfacing are changes that most teams can transition into easily. But in a case when veterans are cut, causing others to quit, a team of entirely new faces has to be ushered in – resulting in a whole new era of Oswego State volleyball.

After spending 10 years coaching at Oswego State former coach Pat Hanlon decided to retire from her position saying that “she had grandchildren and felt that it was time,” according to former captain Katie van Kessel.

Anytime a position is vacant, it needs to be quickly filled in preparation for the following season. Betsy Hayden, the former volleyball and softball coach at Onondaga Community College, was selected to fill that spot.

“It’s great to be working with such a hardworking group of girls who have fun personalities and lots of success ahead of them,” Hayden said.

For a program that expected a change in coaching staff, it certainly did not expect to have a team comprised of 10 newcomers, referring to those who have never experienced the preparation and dedication that goes into a Division III collegiate athletic contest.

The young group of girls consists of one junior, three sophomores, six freshmen and no seniors.

A challenge as daunting as this could seem insurmountable to any team, but the coach has faith in her new squad.

“I definitely have confidence in this young team,” Hayden said. “I’m not concerned because the work ethic is there. We need to eliminate the peaks and valleys which come with their youth.”

What would surprise most people is how a 2010 team with mostly sophomores and juniors can turn into a 2011 team with mostly freshmen and sophomores.

Tryouts this season were highly competitive and all of the players, the ten returners included, knew that they had to come to the gym and compete at the highest possible level at all times.

As all coaches do, Hayden has the final decision as to who stays and who goes. Tryouts lasted for three days; the first session was held on Friday, Aug. 26. Throughout that weekend, players were tested on not only their volleyball skills and fundamentals, but a fitness test as well.

When tryouts came to a close on Sunday, Aug. 28, Hayden ultimately had decided that van Kessel and four other returners (junior Brittany Jones, junior Courtney Price, junior Stephany Olsheski and senior Morgan Grimes) would not best fit the team this year.

“It was devastating…the girls were crushed that their family had been ripped in two,” van Kessel said.

With five veterans having been cut, only five remained to make the most out of an emotional situation.

According to van Kessel, the other five attempted to tough it out because they wanted to keep the team alive and they love volleyball.

The first test to the new season came only two days afterward when the Lakers played in a scrimmage. The five returning upperclassmen thought it felt unusual on the court.

“They told me that nothing felt the same,” van Kessel said. “They described it as an entirely different atmosphere in the gym.”

Two days later the remaining players from the 2010 roster went to Hayden and quit.

With only 10 players remaining on the roster for the remainder of the season, the women’s volleyball team had taken on an even tougher task than originally planned.

On Thursday, Sept. 1, it was time to move on, work with what was at hand, and continue preparation for the regular season. The first step was taken when Hayden named sophomore Meaghan Puff the captain for the 2011 volleyball campaign.

“Being named a sophomore captain was nerve-racking, but my goal is to bring everyone together and find a common meeting point so we can work as a team to achieve our goals,” Puff said.

Aside from hard work, no matter the sport, team chemistry is crucial.

“We all love each other…are super close…have each other’s back, and off the court we are amazing friends,” Puff said.

After the Potsdam Invitational took place during the second weekend in September, the Lakers were excited after winning the final game in the tournament against Cazenovia College. Helping her team to victory was freshman standout Kara Michelsen, who recorded 21 assists accompanied by four kills. These numbers, along with others throughout the weekend earned Michelsen the honor of being named to the All-Tournament team.

Unfortunately, this past week the Lakers dropped their fifth game of the year to St. John Fisher putting their record at 1-5. But optimism runs high, as they will attempt to improve their record this weekend in Schenectady, N.Y. when they play in the Union College Invitational.

“We’re working so hard and still adjusting…and at times, they’re amazing to watch,” Hayden said.

Now depending on the perspective, mixed emotions can be found all over the events that have transpired in the three weeks since campus opened. Ramifications can be felt from all angles.

For a group of 10 girls, competitive volleyball careers have come to an end and in the process an athletic family has ceased to exist.

52 thoughts on “Big changes for women’s volleyball

  1. Thats okay, I already printed them out for future scraping if needed. You going to delete this
    to? LOL to funny,,,,,,, It is called sensorship!

  2. So Hayden got Fired, but it took 30-days? One sentence email from Hale, thats it? no apology?
    no sorry for what we put you through? no offering of the 12-players to come back? This is almost as bad as what Hayden did? Must be Hale is happy with the teams success and their current record? Can’t be to interested in winning, as most of theses players would not start on most high school teams. Yes, they are really bad v-ball players, not all, but yes, most of them.

    Let me get this straight, you send a one sentence email saying Hayden is no longer at Oswego and thats it?

    We would hope that Oswego does the right thing, but looks like not, so what a great story this will make.

    Yes, we all know you read all these, as you should, now its your move, so make the right one?

  3. Really, an email? I would of thought that the President of the School would have this entire
    group of players in to offer their apology and let them all know how sorry the College is for what happened and that they are not back on the team.

    And all the players they went out to get off the street, are gone, as they NEVER went through a try-out, process. You do have to go through try-out process, right? Or just raise your hand who ever
    wants to play, friends, relatives, roomates, whom ever can make it. You got cut two years ago, last year, and also this year, thats three times you got cut. But now we want you to play so we can have a team, even if you lose every game.

    Fix the injustice that was done Oswego?

  4. Sensorship won’t work, can’t make truth go away when you keep deleting posts. They are
    are not even bad for gods sake.

  5. The Oswego State Volleyball current team keeps accepting anyone that wants to or willing to walk on the team. The roster keeps building and building of girls who never tried out but can just hop on the team and play. This team has been the joke across New York. Girls that were cut three years in a row are asking to play and put on the team? This is just embarrassing. They need to put the old roster back on the team and at least get as many wins they can by the end of the season because the team now is not going to manage any wins ever. Not to pick out any players but numerous of them can barely fit in a jersey. Something needs to change.

  6. why would kaylin brainerd be named head coach? she is not qualified to coach at NCAA school yet. Is she even 21? Is she getting paid? Has she ever coached before? High School
    Varsity or other college? And if Hayden brought her in, then she needs to go also? What is her coaching background? really oswego state? is this for real? is she the cheap way out?

  7. OK for all the idiots out there who are completely whacked out of their minds, two things are at fault here. For one, we are not CENSORING any articles (spell it right if you’re going to accuse something) or deleting posts. Second, if you’re going to criticize someone, learn some proper grammar. I realize this is the Internet and that’s probably too much to ask, but we are a respectable paper here, not a blog. Thank you for your time, which you apparently have quite a lot of…

  8. Thank you for confirming that Hayden was fired. And, thank you for spelling “censorship” correctly. That was driving me nuts. To all the Volleyball Players Out There at SUNY Oswego – good luck, and be patient. It is a shame that this has happened, yet there will be good out of the result that she is gone.

  9. Check it out! Oswego State sensorship, as they wrote the last blog on the page and closed it so no
    one else could write anything. Thats the blog with the headline that says ” Hayden dismised” .

  10. ITs really funny how the Parents of the players that are on the volleyball team now, by default only,
    are saying how the 12-players that quit or got cut are so bad and all the other stuff thats listed.
    But its ok for you to write the same stuff? So these are “FACTS” that you can’t change as they are the real things that are history. 1.Hayden got fired for her conduct and nasty behavior. just like her other coaching jobs she got fired at. 2. The only reason that 7 of the players are on the roster today, is by default. 3. The skill level of most all of the players, is very low, everyone sees that
    at the games. Doesn’t make them a bad person, just FACTS! 4. When try-outs happen next year,
    maybe 2-4 players from team now make it. No one else is at the level they need to be. 5. Everyone knows the situation and in the end, the truth prevails. Last, good luck to all, because you all need
    a job when you get out. Think About it!

    1. I totally agree with you. The unfortunate part is for the seniors who will never get that chance because of Hayden!

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